In most cases multiple causative factors run concurrently over a prolonged period. Mild cases can generally be treated easily with little or no medical intervention required. Severe cases on the other hand will need immediate medical attention.
To simplify this complex topic, we will categorize it into the following subgroups:
1) Hereditary (also called Male Pattern Baldness or Androgenic Alopecia)
This type of hair loss is linked to familial hereditary traits. There has been a decades old misnomer that points squarely at the maternal X- Chromosome as the source of genetic balding. To date there isn’t sufficient data to verify this claim. Moreover the genome sequencing on the X-chromosome responsible for this trait still remains a scientific illusion. It has been proven however that in most cases of hereditary balding a combination of genetic factors from both paternal and maternal genes are responsible. Regardless of who is to blame, what is clear is that hereditary balding is permanent and irreversible. To date there exists no feasible treatment to reverse this. Generally the only options available are cosmetic procedures like hair replacement or transplant surgery and scalp expansion / reduction surgery. One way to help understand and accept your own “future” hair loss pattern is by observing balding patterns of close relatives. By gauging both the rate and extent their hairlines recede, you will be able to assess how fast the same would happen to you.
2) Medical causes
There are a host of diseases both acute and chronic that can cause anything from mild to severe alopecia. Some can result in permanent hair loss but generally most tend to be reversible once the underlying medical cause has been treated. Broadly speaking medical problems predisposing to hair loss can be broadly divided into 3 categories: Nutritional Disorders, Metabolic Disorders, Auto-Immune Connective Tissue Disorders (AICTD) and Dermatologic Disorders and Infections, Stress and sleep deprivation and lastly, medications.
3) Environmental and Occupational Factors
Environmental stresses have recently been gaining traction as an ever increasing cause of hair loss. Studies have shown that individuals staying in hot dry climates tend to have dried out brittle hair with excessive split ends. Occupational factors include working within a confined office space seated underneath an air-conditioning unit can result in a dehydrated scalp and the loosening of hair. Another example would be the wearing of safety helmets over long periods resulting in excessively sweaty scalps that predispose to both bacterial and fungal infections.
4) Hair Treatment and Styling
Hair loss can also be brought about by excessive torquing and tightening of hair over long periods of time (seen in braids, pony-tails, dread-locks, weaves and hair rollers). Tugging at already damaged hair can easily dislodge it. However these kinds of hair loss are generally reversible provided proper scalp care is maintained.
Stay tuned for coming articles as we dive in each category!